Is Your Communication Style Hindering Your Growth?

by / 0 Comments / 57 View / February 27, 2017

Effective communication nurtures relationships, increases our career-advancement opportunities, enhances our self-esteem, and helps us manage stress.

When we communicate effectively and feel understood, work—and life—are satisfying. We feel in control, valued, trusted, and respected. When communication breaks down, career advancement halts and employment openings diminish.

Are You an Effective Communicator?
The Quiz: To find out if you’re an effective communicator, answer true or false to the following:

1. I listen to what colleagues say and value their opinions.
True
False

2. I find it difficult to refuse requests or give opinions at company meetings.
True
False

3. When I get upset at work, I often take a short break before addressing my concerns to colleagues.
True
False

4. I can be critical of others’ work when it’s not up to par.
True
False

5. I let colleagues know when I think their work is first rate.
True
False

6. I often give my opinion before colleagues are finished stating their views.
True
False

7. I speak positively, briefly, and clearly.
True
False

8. I tend to engage in small talk about co-workers and office happenings.
True
False

9. I usually keep an open mind when dealing with people or ideas.
True
False

10. It’s difficult for me to let colleagues know that I understand how they’re feeling.
True
False

11. I ask questions for clarification.
True
False

12. I don’t always look at others when speaking to them.
True
False

13. I welcome others’ ideas even though they differ from mine.
True
False

14. I usually don’t let colleagues know that I appreciate their efforts.
True
False

15. I summarize what I hear to correct misunderstanding.
True
False

16. If my department is going to meet a deadline, I’ll let other departments know.
True
False

17. I know how diversity influences communication.
True
False

Scoring and interpretation: Add one point for each “true” answer to odd-numbered statements; add one point for each “false” answer to even-numbered statements.

12 points or higher: You’re an effective communicator. A good listener, you understand colleagues and feel they understand you. You may be assertive and have good friends in and out of work. You probably think before speaking and can unravel mixed messages. However, there may still be skills you can improve. Work on skills that need strengthening.

6-11 points: You have some effective communication skills, but you are weak in some areas. Do you ask for clarification? Respect and praise others? Maintain eye contact? Ask for feedback. What skills are most essential for your career advancement? What skills do you want to improve?

5 points or lower: Your communication needs improving. What you say and how you say it may determine career advancement. Value and listen to others. Know when to speak up and when to maintain silence. Review responses to identify strengths and weaknesses. Focus on improving one communication skill each month. Consider a communication course.

Are your communication skills hindering your career? Use these tips to clearly communicate with co-workers and potential bosses.

Respect others. Respect requires trust, equality, and empathy. It’s essential for cultivating relationships. Treat others as you wish to be treated, and value their opinions.

Listen. Attentive listening requires participation, openness, and receptivity. Practice:

Clarifying. Ask questions when you’re unsure. Instead of saying, “Why do you want to take that course?” try, “What do you want me to learn?” Make sure your message is understood as well. Try: “I’m not sure I’m being clear. What did you hear?”

Repeating. To minimize misunderstanding, summarize what you hear. Then you and your boss will be clear on what’s expected from you.

Reflecting feelings. Let co-workers know that you hear and understand their thoughts. Consider what someone is feeling but not saying. Try empathy: “If that happened to me, I’d be angry.”

Think before responding. Don’t speak when you’re angry or upset. Instead, take time to prepare and rehearse before confronting a potentially difficult conversation. Practice and visualization in advance will help manage your nerves.

Avoid malicious gossip. While it’s natural to stand around the water cooler and gossip a little, keep it to a minimum. Don’t engage in idle and nasty chat about co-workers. What you say can come back to haunt you.

Develop an appropriate speaking style and body language. How you speak is just as important as what you say. Speak briskly in a level, modulated voice. Pronounce words clearly. Be positive and brief while maintaining eye contact.

Radiate energy, enthusiasm, friendliness, competence, and confidence. Avoid grimaces, lip biting, rolling your eyes, and fidgeting. Sit erect. Stand tall, shoulders back. Develop a powerful handshake.

Be assertive. Make your needs and requests clear in a friendly way. Stick to the facts and set boundaries. Separate people from tasks. You can refuse requests without rejecting requesters.

Ask, rather than complain.

Recognize and respect differences. Gender, cultural background, birthplace, occupation, and personality all influence communication. Recognizing and respecting differences can help reduce misunderstandings.

For instance, extroverts often monopolize conversations. Introverts may find this rude and annoying, while extroverts may perceive introverts aloof and detached. Mutual understanding could benefit both.

Give praise. Support and advice at the office are essential for good relations. Show your appreciation for a job well done or a co-worker’s help. Praise often and publicly. Link praise to a specific activity, quality, or attribute.

Offer constructive feedback. Separate the person from the product or task. Instead of criticizing, begin with a compliment. Make suggestions for ways to improve.

Keep information flowing. Advise others of important news and stay informed about company and industry developments. No department can work in isolation. If customer service is inundated with complaints, everyone in the company should know about it. Bad news is worsened when kept from employees.

Most professionals benefit from enhancing their communication skills. With a little work, you can get your point across clearly and concisely. Try working on one communication tip a week. You’ll note positive changes in your relationships and career development. BW

Dr. Carole Kanchier, registered psychologist, educator, and author of Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Your Life (ISBN 9871936672714), helps individuals and organizations manage. Email: carole@questersdaretochange.com.

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